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Training and education

June 15, 2007 NTTP Meeting Notes

Minutes of National Trails Training Partnership, June 15, 2007
Arlington, VA, at US Fish & Wildlife Service offices

Meeting convened at 9:00 p.m.


  • Christopher Douwes, FHWA
  • Jonathan LeClere, FHWA Contractor
  • Stuart Macdonald, NTTP Program Manager for American Trails
  • Pam Gluck, American Trails
  • Monica Clay, Tread Lightly!
  • Nathan Caldwell, US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Steve Elkinton, National Park Service -RTCA
  • Cherri Espersen , National Park Service -RTCA
  • Charlie Stockman, National Park Service -RTCA
  • Kelly Pack, Rails to Trails Conservancy
  • Sean Blakeney, American Hiking Society
  • Matt Gay, US Fish & Wildlife Service NCTC
  • Jenn Dice, International Mountain Bicycling Association
  • Jonathan Stevens, USDA Forest Service
  • Mark Goldbach, Bureau of Land Management

By phone:

  • Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails
  • Rich Dolesh, National Recreation and Park Association
  • Tim Beatty. USDA Forest Service

Introduction and new training and resources from agencies and organizations

Rich Guadagno Memorial National Recreation Trail - The 1,000th National Recreation Trail was named in honor of Rich Guadagno, a dedicated Fish and Wildlife Service Manager who died on Flight 93, September 11, 2001. Rich was manager at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Mark Goldbach (BLM) - Working with USFWS who will be presenting the Interagency Trails Course.

Steve Elkinton - Hugh Duffy, a longtime NPS trails expert from Colorado, has finalized a new publication on trail planning and design: "Guide to Sustainable Mountain Trails." Will be available online. Soliciting projects to help celebrate the NPS Centennial.

Matt Gay (USFWS) - Will be managing the Interagency Trails Course for FWS.

Jenn Dice (IMBA) - Building five "Ride Centers" around the country like they have in Europe. Will be trail resource and education centers for people to learn about good trails and sustainable design. One in Tamarack Idaho, Brainerd, MN, and another in Florida. Released second book on Mountain Bike Management. June of 2008 in Park City will be next conference with focus on trail building skills from around the world. IMBA is happy to share their materials, website resources, and policy analysis on federal issues.

Kelly Pack (RTC) - Putting on all-day Successful Strategies for Trails workshop at their conference in August. Updating website with new Toolbox section this summer.

Sean Blakeney (AHS) - Working on policy issues. Held Southeastern Hiking Conference. Continuing crew leader training as part of Volunteer Vacations program. Working on web-based database on trails that go through BLM land.

Cherri Espersen (NPS) - Designated 40 new National Recreation Trails for 2008 on National Trails Day.

Christopher Douwes (FHWA) - Working with Missoula (USFS) on publications for trails. Clemson University will publish book on equestrian trails. NEPA course available through Federal Highway Institute. Financing Federal Aid Highways course for federal lands will be offered in November in Lakewood, CO.

Monica Clay (TL) - Tread Trainer program teaches practical ways to promote outdoor ethics. Water-related course available now for motorized boating and PWC use. Great online course with opportunity to win gear.

Jonathan Stevens (USFS) - Project selection for San Dimas and Missoula technology centers for 2008 includes some trails training projects.

Rich Dolesh (NRPA) - House passed appropriations bill included increases in LWCF ($50 million). Have worked for UPAR program that will help fund urban trails. Supported Centennial Initiative to help increase funding for national parks. Private philanthropy fund is proposed, but seems very restricted to NPS units. Steve Elkinton also sees problems, and has been asked to broaden the criteria for this funding. Proposal for 20 demonstration projects for getting kids outdoors and environmental education, but little evidence of trails being included. Children in Nature Network will host a national conference in August. Gary suggests federal government could provide funding for schools and local parks for these programs.

Gary Werner (PNTS) - Eleventh conference Sept. 7-11 in Duluth, MN, will include workshops on trails topics and a one-day capacity building training for organizations. Healthy Trail Partnerships is the theme, and topics include connecting with children, healthy resources, healthy experiences. Workshop on safety and training for trails.

Tim Beatty (USFS) - Conservation USA teaches people to be leaders in conservation projects including trails. Training this summer, compiling national cadre of instructors, getting people trained as project managers.

Pam Gluck - Next National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, AR, November 15-18, 2008. Theme will be around topic of Innovation. Then Chattanooga in late fall of 2010. New American Trails Magazine. New area on website for book reviews. Offering workshop on accessible and sustainable trails, as well as Universal Trails Assessment Process (UTAP) training. Working with states on various training opportunities. Starting monthly email to focus on training.

Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative - (Stuart Macdonald)

Update on their efforts:

Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative (COTI) to grow a larger pool of skilled volunteers for basic trail construction and maintenance. Several states have taken advantage of the partnership between COTI and American Trails to offer the course locally. COTI is currently developing additional courses on other trail-related topics:

Weed Management: a one-day training for volunteers and staff to include weed identification, history of introductions, weed ecology, and treatment options.

Trail Maintenance Skills Workshop: a menu of skill-based trainings (one day or half day) focusing on trail maintenance topics from tread maintenance to corridor maintenance to water diversion structure maintenance.

Project Management: a two-day workshop to learn to interface with land management agencies to plan, implement and accomplish specific conservation projects.

Sustainable Mountain Trails: Assessment, Planning & Design: a two-three day introductory course on successful tools and techniques to assess, plan, design and implement sustainable high-use multiple-use mountain trails.

About Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative:

The goal of COTI is helping raise the general level of trail quality, both for volunteers and land management agency staff. Tony raised the concern that COTI is competing with contractors by providing training for free. How should contractors be involved with these kinds of volunteer groups. Concerns that volunteers are not building quality trails in many cases. At the same time, some groups see "intimate handbuilt trails" as better than those more efficiently constructed with mechanized vehicles.

Presentation on NTTP goals, actions, accomplishments, and plans (Stuart Macdonald)

Governance (Steve Elkinton)

We have discussed ways to manage the partnership and more effectively promote trianing through the NTTP structure. One suggestion is to make NTTP more of a committee of American Trails, which is doing the staff work. Goal is to not diminish the role of partner organizations and agencies. Will distribute the "Proposal for Governance" that Steve has put together with help from committee. It clarifies the relationship of federal agencies with the partnership.

Reauthorization (Christopher Douwes)

Federal transportation funding will be reauthorized in 2009 or more likely, will be extended and reauthorized in a subsequent year. Proposal from the trails community will need to be in early 2008. Expenditures on transportation are expanding beyond revenue from the Highway Trust Fund. May be asked to cut back federal aid highway programs. Trails are a small part and subject to potential cutbacks. Gary: we should be prepared for transportation funding sturucture to be very different from past years. Trucking industry is proposing vast new high speed truck routes, even as other promote more rail service.

Pam stated the the Coalition for Rzcreation Trails will be proposing higher amounts of funding for the Recreational Trails Program. Concern is that FHWA will be able to also increase its administrative "takedown" which is what funds training programs like NTTP, as well as publications, research, and conferences by trail organizations.

Linking the National Highway and Trails Systems (Sean Furniss)

Separate from the Federal Aid programs (e.g. Recreational Trails Program). BLM does not have a specific part of the program. Working on a white paper for next reauthorization which would create a Federal Lands Trails Program. Idea is to set aside 10% of the Public Lands Highways funding as the equivalent of FHWA's RTP to benefit trails for national designate historic, scenic, and recreation trails on land adminstered by federal agencies. Would also establish a National Trails Resource Center to support agencies and organizations working on these trails. The center would be similar in funding and structure to the Byways Resouce Center, providing technical assistance, coordination, and volunteer training.

Current TEA enables the Refuge Roads Program to spend up to 5% of funding for maintenance and improvement of existing trails on national wildlife refuges, but not to build new trails. Some feel a cap may not be desirable since some agencies spend more than that, but others feel a cap is necessary to be sure that the minimum is available to trails while setting a maximum that will reassure the road interests. Goal is to provide small amount of funding that will be highly leveraged by nonprofits and local communities.

Gary sees a national trails needs study for connecting routes and communities for transportation will be increasingly important. Nathan sees that connecting people and kids with nature is going to be a role for transportation funding as well. Trails proposals will be a way to get Federal Lands programs to accomplish this.

Interagency Trail Management course (Matt Gay)

Big demand for the course, 32 people on the waiting list in Las Vegas. goal is to get out of hotels. BLM was hiring a course coordinator, a job that Matt will do now. FWS will be able to reduce the cost of the course. BLM will continue to fund eight slots for the courses. FWS will be using funding from the Refuge roads and trails program. States have funds they can use to pay for training such as this. Both nonprofits and for-profit companies are interested in the course as well. Will eventually redesign, retool, and remarket the course as needed. Students asking "now what" need to get more guidance, courses to take next, and follow up with resource materials.

Marketing and NTTP image (Monica Clay)

Discussion at previous meetings on branding had goal of de-emphasizing the organization (NTTP) and emphasizing access to training. Will include "brought to you by NTTP." Christopher: people care more about what they can get out of this, not what it's called. Will there be confusion with other "Clearinghouses" or "Centers"?

Suggested new names:

1. Trails Training Clearinghouse

2. Trails Training Information Center


Agreement on: Trails Training Network and use as the weblink. Suggestions that we may want to have two associated websites with different goals, as other organizations do.

Jonathan checked links from agency websites to see which linked to He will also check national trails and recreation organizations.

Fish & Wildlife Service - a couple of prominent links with the logo

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - no links anywhere

Bureau of Land Management - all 18 links in pdf and Word files

National Park Service - one link on programs page

Embed training and resources in skills and competencies pages (Stuart Macdonald)

Showed new pages in 12 categories. See

Guidelines for Accessible Trails - future need for training (Stuart Macdonald)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for accessible trails is expected to be published in Federal Register as early as June 18, 2007. Will be great need for training on accessibility in near future as this rulemaking progresses.

Evaluation: how do we know if training is effective (Steve Elkinton)

Commonly used is model is Kirkpatrick's.

NTTP should include more information for people on how to do evaluations. Provide other models, give trail groups the tools to do their own evaluations. Good training can depend on having clear goals and objectives. We would also like to get feedback on other resources available on the website. Expanding on book reviews, helping people find the training that's most appropriate for them.

Progress on trail skills surveys

BLM project on skills for national Scenic and Historic trails (Steve Elkinton)

Will be fine-tuning the survey and sending it out to agencies, while American Trails will be distributing it to states and organizations. Still questions as to how broadly the survey is meant to be distributed, or whether it is just focused on active managers and volunteers on the designated trails themselves.

Christopher: our big goal should be to save money by providing more training on how to build better trails.

Next Meeting

October teleconference as part of Interagency Trails Council meeting.

Suggest teleconference in November or December (scheduled October 10, 2007).

Professional Trailbuilders Conference in February or March.

Adjourned: 3:55 p.m.

Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald

Photo of meeting

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